Sony made a ground-breaking announcement at this week’s CEDIA 2017 expo: a bunch of new projectors introducing a legitimate, native 4K HDR projector for under $5,000. While that may seem like a hefty price tag for any projector it’s worth noting that, until now, Sony’s least expensive true 4K projector rang in at twice that figure. Of course, if money is no object and only the best will do, Sony also introduced an impressive $25,000 laser-powered model capable of playing for 20,000 hours.
Is this announcement a big deal? For hardcore cinephiles, it most certainly is.
VPL-VW285ES — $5,000
The new VPL-VW285ES is the first consumer-ready projector to offer true, cinematic 4K resolution (note the lack of Ultra HD or UHD tacked on here), with no processing to achieve the 8.84 million pixels demanded by cinema standards. This is a projector that dishes out legitimate 4,096 × 2,160 resolution (as opposed to the more commonplace 3,840 pixels × 2,160 line UHD resolution found in most consumer displays), with High Dynamic Range (HDR) support, offering enthusiasts a true 4K projector capable of delivering a genuine cinema experience at home.
Other projectors claiming 4K resolution — such as JVC’s popular DLA-X570R, Optoma’s brand-new UHD60, and Epson’s Home Cinema 4000 use some manner of pixel shifting technology or other digital image trickery to approximate 4K resolution. Sony’s claim to “true” 4K is based on an exact, pixel-per-pixel reproduction of 4K image content.
Boasting 1,500 ANSI lumens, the Sony VPL-VW285ES is not an especially bright projector; an almost totally blacked out room will be required to enjoy it to its full potential. But with the ability to deliver a true 4K resolution picture at up to 200 inches, along with other Sony projector benefits such as top-tier processing, expanded color gamut, and ultra-quiet fan operation, its likely the VW285ES will find a home in many dedicated home theater spaces.
VPL-VW385ES — $8,000
For those looking for a bit of a step up from the entry-level true 4K projector model Sony offers, there’s the VW385ES, which offers all of the staple Sony projector tech we just mentioned along with a more advanced iris, which Sony President and COO Mike Fasulo says translates into better performance for dark and bright scenes, thanks to a 200,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio.
VPL-VW885ES — $25,000
For the ultimate true 4K projector, Sony now offers the VW885ES, a projector which uses a laser light source for 2,000 Lumens of brightness and a total of 20,000 hours of lamp operation (versus 6,000 hours with the aforementioned LCD-based models). Additionally, the VW885ES supports “Picture Position” memory, which allows the projector to easily switch between 16:9, 2.35:1, and other popular cinematic aspect ratios at the touch of a button. A real boon to home theater owners with ultra-wide cinema screens is this projectors ability to vertically stretch 4K signals to properly fit their screens.
Sony says all three projectors will be available for purchase from authorized dealers as of this week. Thinking about buying a projector? Read our guides first: We walk through whether a projector is right for you, and show you how to choose a screen to really enjoy your new home theater.